Pumpkins are not just for Halloween, they are an extremely healthy vegetable and eaten regularly in Sri Lanka (where they are called Wattakka). Pumpkins are very low in calories (around 20 calories per 100 g). This makes it the perfect food for those watching their weight. They are extremely rich in potassium and have a lot of magnesium and iron as well.
The bright orange fleshy part of a pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant that helps us fight toxins and free radicals in our bodies.
Whilst buying pumpkins for cooking a curry, choose the ones with a complete stem attached to the top. This usually means that the vegetable is fresh and will store for longer without going off.
Ingredients for Sri Lankan style Pumpkin (Wattakka) Curry:
- One large pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons of rice
- 2 tablespoons of grated coconut (fresh is best but frozen is ok too – ensure you defrost before using)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- Sprig of Curry leaves (optional; 3 or 4 bay leaves are an alternative)
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp curry powder (the normal variety, not the darker roasted one which is more for meat dishes)
- 1 piece of cinnamon (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
- 1 cup (half pint) of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp of ground mustard seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- First roast the rice and grated coconut in a pan till golden brown but not burnt. Let it cool.
- Stir fry the onions, green chillies, garlic, curry leaves, fenugreek, cinnamon, chili powder, curry powder and turmeric for a few minutes. Add the pumpkin pieces. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Season with salt. Add a cup of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes.
- Now grind the rice, coconut mixture into a powder. Dissolve in coconut milk and add to the pumpkin. Add the ground mustard and cook a couple more minutes. Adjust salt to taste.
- Serve hot with rice.